Nearly every student who studies abroad deems it the best thing he/she did during his/her college career. I am a passionate supporter of study abroad education, and international and intercultural studies.
The opportunity to direct study abroad programs is a great privilege for any faculty member, and I am very thankful to be as involved as I have been in study abroad programs since beginning my career in higher education. With the increasing role of the internet in contemporary art, media, and business practices, I believe every college student’s education, regardless of discipline, should be grounded in a globalized approach.
My own work is distinctly multicultural, and it has had an enormous impact on my life as an educator. For many years now I have been writing on, shooting photos of, and producing videos about the people of Ireland, where my ancestors are from. My work has explored Irish gender inequality, the rift between the Catholics and the Protestants, and the growing divide between the nation’s youth and its older, more conservative generations. I’ve made films about immigration and prejudice, religion and the economy, and the dramatic gap between the haves and have-nots in the Irish social class system.
My passion for all issues Irish led to my appointment as the Director of Temple University’s Study Abroad Program in Dublin, a position I held for multiple years. I developed an exciting curriculum involving history and literature, site visits and field work, creative work and writing. During the program, I also taught courses that I authored, including “Irish Media Arts and Irish Identity” and “Travel Writing in Ireland.” With a firm foothold in Ireland’s media market, I have been able to open doors to students that would be closed to most academic programs, including the engineering of learning experiences at RTE, Ireland’s national television network, and Hot Press, which is the Irish equivalent of Rolling Stone. While at Temple, I also secured the position of the Director of the Summer Seminar in London, where I was asked to provide the creative direction and program revision that I brought to the Dublin program.
I’ve also led the video production unit of the Institute for Education in International Media’s program in Armagh, which is located just outside of Belfast in Northern Ireland. I supervised and instructed digital filmmaking in a massive multimedia project in which students from multiple American colleges and universities produced a portrait of the small city, which has a fascinating and troubled political history. In addition to their production work, the students learned intercultural competence, a skill that no media producer should be without in an era in which media production industries have become so globalized.
Most recently, I was the Director of the University of Oregon’s ‘Cinema in Ireland’ summer program in Dublin, where I taught a course in Irish film studies and took students to the sets of the RTE miniseries Rebellion and the History Channel show Vikings, and to the Galway Film Fleadh.
The programs I have designed for Dublin are not the tourist’s vision of the city. I take students to some of the most run-down, formerly dangerous parts of the city – areas that were until recently controlled by druglords and organized crime, areas full of the working poor, and recent immigrants from third-world nations. My students leave Ireland with an understanding of the diversity and working everyday life of the nation.
And hopefully they return home as travelers in their own cities, with open eyes and attentive minds. Hopefully, they return with the knowledge of how to claim their place as responsible global citizens. With the changing faces of global communication and business and with new technologies making the distances between nations ever smaller, I believe it is important now more than ever that students learn to function as effective communicators in a global setting.
And of course, the students also leave with a love for Ireland and Dublin, a shared passion for a city that was their home away from home for a short time. If I can impart just a fraction of my love and enthusiasm for Ireland to my students, I’ve done my job.
The programs I’ve designed have been great successes, with multiple students telling me that it was the greatest experience of their lives to date. More rewarding than that praise, though, is the promise they make to me that they will continue to travel, open their eyes to the world around them, and step outside the comfort zone of the lives they’ve built in the U.S. Two of the fourteen students in my very first summer program were so taken with Dublin that they secured jobs in the city and moved to Ireland permanently. Several more have followed suit, moving to Ireland or to other foreign cities.
Since beginning to direct study abroad programs, I have presented research on methods for teaching and marketing intercultural and international media-centered study abroad programs at multiple conferences. My strong interests in curricular and program development have carried over into my engagement with study abroad education.
There are few things in life as important as travel, as seeing the world, as learning what it has to teach us. Most people’s excuses for not traveling – not enough money, not enough time, too many responsibilities at home – are just that, excuses. It’s not really that complicated – if you want to go, GO. Traveling is a moral, political and social act. The world would be a better place if more of us traveled. The planet awaits.
To learn more about the study abroad programs offered by the School of Media and Communication at Temple University, including the Dublin program Prof. Morrow oversaw, and the London program he ran in the summer of 2009, please visit their Study Away site:
To learn more about IEIMedia’s study abroad programs, including the Northern Ireland program in which Prof. Morrow taught documentary filmmaking, please visit its website:
To learn more about GEO Study Abroad’s Cinema in Ireland program, which Prof. Morrow directed in 2015, please visit its website:
Photos from Prof. Morrow’s 2015 summer program in Dublin: